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Melatonin for Dogs: Uses, Benefits, and Doses

Table of Contents

You just got home from a long day at work, and your dog is running around the house with an abundance of energy. Although you can't help but marvel at their enthusiasm, you quickly remember - it's bedtime!

To curb your dog's energy, you try to take your pup outside for a quick walk, maybe that will tire them out enough for bed. But they seem even more energized by the change of scenery and are still wide awake when you get back in the house.

That's when it clicks - you need to try melatonin!

Chances are you've heard about melatonin use in humans, but is it safe for dogs? And how much should you give your dog? Where do you start?

In this article, we'll answer all your questions about Melatonin for dogs, including:

  • What is melatonin, and what are its benefits for dogs?
  • How do you choose the right dose for your pup?
  • What are the potential risks associated with giving your dog melatonin?

We'll also discuss how to integrate melatonin into your pet's daily routine to ensure they get the most out of this powerful supplement.

So let's get started!

melatonin supplement

What is Melatonin?

Melatonin is a naturally occurring hormone made by the pineal gland in both humans and animals. It helps regulate the body's circadian rhythm - or sleep patterns - by signaling to the brain when it's time for relaxation.

In dogs, melatonin not only plays a role in regulating their sleep-wake cycles but also offers other health benefits, such as reducing inflammation and alleviating stress.

In addition, it has been found to effectively treat dogs plagued with several illnesses, such as separation anxiety, sleep issues, allergies, and even cancer.

What is the circadian rhythm?

The circadian rhythm is an internal biological clock that runs on a 24-hour cycle. It controls when you feel alert and when you feel tired, as well as other bodily functions like hormone production.

In dogs, the circadian rhythm helps them recognize day from night. When their environment is disrupted or they experience stress, their normal sleep pattern can become disrupted too. This is where melatonin comes in - it helps restore their natural sleep-wake cycle so that your pup can get back to feeling happy and energized again!

What things can disrupt a dog's sleep cycle?

There are a few things that can disrupt your pup's sleep-wake cycle:

  • Changes in environment like traveling or moving to a new home
  • Age-related sleep problems in older dogs
  • Stress from a new pet
  • Illness or pain
  • Loud noises or bright lights at night (like thunderstorms or fireworks)
  • Stress from being separated from their owners for long periods
  • Certain medications that cause disruptions in the circadian rhythm

Chemistry behind melatonin

Melatonin is a chemical compound consisting of protein and indole, which is derived from the amino acid tryptophan. It works by binding to melatonin receptors in the brain which regulate the body's circadian rhythm. This hormone helps signal to the body when it is time to wake up and when it is time for relaxation.

Natural production cycle of melatonin in humans and animals

In humans and animals, melatonin production is stimulated by darkness. As the sun sets and night falls, the pineal gland produces more of this hormone which signals to the body it is time for sleep.

On the other hand, when daylight hits the eye (in humans) or fur (in animals), it sends a signal to stop producing melatonin and start producing cortisol - a hormone that gives us energy during the day.

Melatonin levels tend to peak in humans around midnight, while they peak in dogs during dawn and dusk. This is why giving your pup an extra dose of melatonin at night might be beneficial if they're having trouble falling asleep or staying asleep.

senior dog

What affects a dog's melatonin production?

Like humans, the production of melatonin in dogs can be affected by several factors such as age, environment, and diet. For example, older dogs tend to produce less natural melatonin than most dogs, which is why they may benefit from supplementation.

Likewise, exposure to light (both artificial and natural) can affect how much melatonin is produced in your pup since this hormone controls their circadian rhythm. This means that you should try to keep their sleeping area dark and quiet if possible.

Finally, a healthy diet plays a significant role in maintaining normal levels of melatonin in dogs. Make sure your pup is getting all the essential nutrients they need for optimal health!

Why does melatonin production decrease in senior dogs?

As dogs age, their pineal gland tends to shrink and become less efficient at producing melatonin. This is why you might notice your senior dog having difficulty sleeping or becoming more restless in the evening, along with other signs of cognitive dysfunction.

Supplementing with melatonin can help increase the natural production of this hormone, which may help them get a better night's rest.

How can diet improve melatonin production?

A healthy, balanced diet is essential for ensuring your pup's body produces enough melatonin. Make sure they are getting plenty of protein, fats, and complex carbohydrates to keep their overall health in check.

Certain foods like turkey, cherries, walnuts, oats, flaxseed oil or pumpkin can also help increase melatonin production. These foods contain tryptophan - an amino acid that helps the body produce more of this hormone naturally.

What sleep disorders can affect my dog's melatonin production?

Certain sleep disorders can also affect your pup's melatonin production. These include insomnia, narcolepsy, and REM (rapid eye movement) behavior disorder.

Insomnia is when your dog has difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep for long periods. Narcolepsy is when they fall asleep very suddenly during the day and have difficulty staying awake. And finally, REM behavior disorder is characterized by excessive movements and vocalizations during sleep that can disrupt their night's rest.

These conditions can be both caused and exacerbated by imbalanced levels of melatonin in the body so it may be beneficial to give your pup an extra boost with a natural supplement like Melatonin.

How can stress affect my dog's melatonin production?

Stress can be a major factor when it comes to your pup's sleep-wake cycle. Too much stress can cause the body to release more cortisol, which interferes with melatonin production and can disrupt the natural circadian rhythm.

Common signs of stress in dogs include panting, pacing, barking, hiding, restlessness, and general uneasiness. If you notice your pup exhibiting any of these behaviors, take steps to help them relax, such as giving them more exercise or spending extra time playing and cuddling with them.

happy dog grass

Benefits of Melatonin for Dogs

Sleep regulation

Melatonin is a powerful supplement for helping regulate your pup's sleep-wake cycle. It can help your pup fall asleep faster and stay asleep longer, which is especially helpful for pups who suffer from disrupted sleep patterns or separation anxiety.

Melatonin works by binding to melatonin receptors in the brain which regulate the body's circadian rhythm. This hormone helps signal to the body when it is time to wake up and when it is time for rest.

Why is sleep important for dogs?

Getting adequate rest is just as important for dogs as it is for pet parents. Sleep plays a role in the growth and development of your pup, helps the body to recuperate after physical activity, keeps their moods balanced, and aids in learning new things.

Here's how...

When a pup falls asleep, its body enters into a state of rest. This state helps to conserve energy and helps the body repair itself from any damage it has incurred throughout the day. As they sleep, their breathing rate slows down and their heart rate is significantly lower than when they are awake.

In addition, during sleep, certain hormones are released in the brain, such as growth hormones, which help to maintain healthy tissues and muscles.

Pain relief

Melatonin is beneficial in reducing inflammation and alleviating joint pain in dogs. This makes it an effective alternative to traditional medications.

Melatonin works by blocking the release of certain chemicals that can cause inflammation while at the same time boosting the production of beneficial hormones like serotonin and dopamine. These hormones are known to reduce pain and discomfort in dogs.

It's important to note that melatonin should not be used as a replacement for traditional veterinary medicine. However, it can be used in conjunction with those medications to maximize their effectiveness.

Stress relief

In addition to reducing physical pain, melatonin can also be used as a stress reliever for anxious pups. Studies have shown that this hormone helps reduce cortisol levels - the “stress hormone” - in both humans and animals. This makes it a great option for dogs who experience severe anxiety often due to loud noises, such as fireworks or thunderstorms.

Melatonin is not a sedative, so it won't make your pup drowsy or overly groggy. Instead, its effects are calming and mild, making it an ideal way to help keep your dog relaxed without affecting their daily routine.

Why is stress relief important for my dog?

Stress relief is important for your pup to keep them happy and healthy. Excessive levels of stress can lead to physical and mental health problems such as medical conditions, such as depression, anxiety, aggression, or even digestive issues.

By providing your pup with an effective way to destress, like with melatonin, you can help keep their mood and energy level balanced throughout the day. This will ensure they are getting the right amount of sleep each night so that they can wake up feeling refreshed and ready for a new day!

healthy dog

Immune system support

Melatonin helps strengthen the immune system and protect against illnesses in dogs. Studies have found that it can help reduce the severity of diseases all through improving the immune system.

Melatonin does this by increasing the production of antibodies and other immune system molecules that help fight off infection. It also helps regulate sleep cycles, which can be beneficial for pups suffering from chronic illnesses.

As a bonus, due to a good support immune system, melatonin helps prevent hair loss in dogs while also promoting healthy hair regrowth.

Why is a healthy immune system important?

A healthy immune system is essential for your pup's overall health and well-being. It helps protect against disease and illness, as well as speeds up the healing process when they are injured or ill.

It also helps boost their energy levels, which can improve their quality of life by reducing the amount of time they spend in bed due to fatigue and sickness. 

Cancer prevention

Melatonin has also been found to be beneficial in preventing cancer. It can help inhibit the growth of cancer cells, reduce inflammation associated with the disease, and even increase the effectiveness of traditional chemotherapy treatments.

Melatonin works by blocking the hormones that can lead to tumor growth. As mentioned, it also helps regulate the body’s immune system, which in turn can further help fight off cancer cells and reduce inflammation.

How exactly does melatonin increase the effectiveness of chemotherapy treatments?

Melatonin can increase the effectiveness of chemotherapy treatments by reducing the side effects associated with them. It works by blocking the hormones that can lead to nausea and vomiting.

It also helps reduce inflammation in their body which can help make chemotherapy treatments more effective. By keeping your pup's energy levels up, it will allow them to have more strength and energy throughout their treatment process.

Nervous system regulation

Finally, melatonin can also be used to help manage your pup’s energy levels. Many pups are prone to high energy, and if left unchecked, this can lead to behavioral problems such as excessive barking, chewing, or digging.

Melatonin works by calming the nervous system, which in turn helps to regulate energy levels and reduce hyperactivity. This supplement should not be used as a substitute for proper exercise and mental stimulation, so make sure you are providing your pup with plenty of both!

How does a dog's nervous system work?

The nervous system is responsible for helping to regulate the body’s functions. It works by sending signals from the brain and spinal cord to other parts of the body.

These signals can be in response to external stimuli, such as anxiety or fear, or internal stimuli, such as hunger or thirst. The nervous system helps your pup understand his environment and respond appropriately. This is why you must provide your pup with plenty of mental stimulation and exercise so that their nerves stay healthy!

What causes high energy in dogs?

High energy in dogs is often caused by a lack of mental and physical stimulation. If your pup isn't getting enough exercise or not being given enough opportunity to explore the world around them, they may become frustrated and start exhibiting signs of excessive energy, such as barking or destructive behavior.

god car window

Uses of Melatonin for Dogs

Traveling or moving situations cause stress or anxiety

Melatonin can be used to help keep your pup relaxed and calm during stressful situations, including when traveling or moving. It helps regulate the release of hormones like cortisol that are associated with stress and anxiety.

Separation anxiety/nighttime barking/crying while alone in a crate

Separation anxiety is a common problem for pups, especially those who are left alone in a crate for long periods. Melatonin can help reduce the symptoms of this condition by calming your pup and helping them relax so they don't become overly anxious. It can also help reduce night-time barking and crying, which can be disruptive to both you and your pup.

Age-related sleep disturbances/pain relief

Melatonin is an excellent option for older dogs who may be suffering from age-related sleep disturbances or joint pain. It helps regulate their body's natural production of melatonin, which can help improve the quality of their sleep. It also helps reduce inflammation associated with arthritis, allowing your pup to feel more comfortable during movement.

Health issues causing pain or discomfort

If your pup is suffering from a chronic health or medical condition, however, melatonin can help reduce their pain and discomfort. It works by blocking the release of certain hormones that can cause inflammation and regulate the body's immune system to fight off illness.

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and other mental health issues

Melatonin can also be beneficial for dogs suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) or other mental health issues. It helps regulate the body's natural production of hormones like serotonin and dopamine which are essential for maintaining a healthy emotional balance. This makes it an excellent option for pups who need extra support to manage their anxiety.

dog getting treat

Appropriate melatonin doses for dogs

Several factors determine an appropriate dosage for melatonin in dogs:

  • Size: The dosage of melatonin should be adjusted based on the size of your pup. For example, a larger breed may need more than a smaller breed.
  • Age: Puppies and seniors may require different doses depending on their age and health conditions.
  • Breed: Some breeds of dogs are more sensitive to certain medications or supplements, so it's important to know your pup's breed before giving them any type of medication or supplement.

How to calculate the appropriate dose for your dog

The recommended dose of melatonin for dogs is typically between 0.5 mg and 5 mg per day, depending on the size and health of your pup.

To calculate the appropriate dosage for your pup, divide their weight (in kilograms) by 20 to get the optimal dosage. For example, if your pup weighs 10 kg, its ideal dose would be 0.5 mg per day (10 kg/20).

It's always best to consult with your vet about any supplements or medications you plan on giving your pup as they will know what's best for them based on their individual needs.

Additionally, it's not recommended that you give your pup more than 5 mg of melatonin per day, no matter their size as this could cause harmful side effects. 

What happens if I give my dog too much melatonin?

If given too high of a melatonin dosage, a dog may experience some uncomfortable side effects such as nausea, dizziness, or headaches. In more severe cases, the side effects can be more serious and include seizures or even death. Monitor your pup closely when giving them this supplement, and make sure you follow the recommended dosage provided by your veterinarian.

Safety and side effects of melatonin use in dogs

Despite its many benefits, many owners wonder, "Is melatonin safe?". The answer is yes. However, melatonin can also have some side effects if it's not used correctly. Some of the most common melatonin side effects can include:

Diarrhea and vomiting

Diarrhea and vomiting can occur if your pup is given too much melatonin or if their body doesn't respond well to the supplement.

The best way to treat vomiting in dogs is to make sure that they stay well-hydrated and are given plenty of rest. If your pup is suffering from dehydration due to vomiting, you should also give them electrolyte solutions or sports drinks, as these can help replenish lost fluids.

Additionally, if your pup's upset stomach persists, take them to the vet as soon as possible.

dog getting meds

Interference with other medications

Melatonin can interfere with certain types of medications like anticonvulsants and blood thinners, so make sure to discuss any dietary supplements that you plan on giving your pup with their vet before starting them on a new course of treatment.

What medications don't mix well with melatonin?

Melatonin should not be taken in combination with any of the following medications: sedatives, tranquilizers, or antidepressants. Additionally, if your dog is taking other hormone supplements like thyroid medication, it is best to speak with your vet before starting a course of melatonin.

Finally, never give your dog two different forms of melatonin – just stick to one type at a time and follow the instructions carefully!

Increased heart rate

Monitor your pup for any increased heart rate, as this can be a sign of an adverse reaction. If you notice that their heart rate is higher than usual, it's best to talk to your vet right away and adjust the dosage accordingly.

What is the normal heart rate for a dog?

The normal heart rate for a dog ranges from 60 to 140 beats per minute, depending on the size and age of the dog. Puppies are generally considered to have higher heart rates than adult dogs, while larger breeds tend to have lower heart rates. If your pup's heart rate is consistently above 140 beats per minute, it's best to talk to your vet right away, as this could be a sign of something wrong.

Drowsiness or disorientation

In some cases, melatonin can cause pups to become drowsy or disoriented, but you would have to give your dog high amounts for intense disorientation to occur.

If your pup is feeling drowsiness after taking melatonin, the best thing to do is take them for a walk or play with them to keep them awake and alert.

Make sure they are also drinking plenty of water and getting enough rest, as both of these things will help reduce the effects of drowsiness. Finally, be sure to watch your pup closely and monitor any changes in their behavior!

Lethargy or loss of appetite.

Lethargy or loss of appetite can be signs that your pup is not responding well to the supplement. If this occurs, it's best to reduce the dosage and talk to your vet right away.

If your pup is showing signs of lethargy, the best thing to do is make sure they are well hydrated and get plenty of rest. If they still seem sluggish after a few days of rest, it's best to take them to the vet right away.

sad pup

How common are these side effects?

Remember that side effects from melatonin are rare, especially when taken in the recommended form and with the proper dosage amount. These side effects mainly occur when too high of a dose is given or when the supplement is combined with other medications. If you have any questions or concerns, it's best to speak with your vet before giving your pup melatonin.

How to administer melatonin

There are a lot of different ways to make sure your dog gets the melatonin they need. Depending on your dog's weight and their individual preferences many different avenues are available such as:

Melatonin tablets or capsules that can be given directly to your pup orally.

Melatonin should always be administered as directed by your vet. If you give your pup a tablet or capsule form of the supplement, it's best to place the tablet or capsule in their food for easy consumption.

You can also mix it with a bit of peanut butter or yogurt to make sure they swallow it completely. Peanut butter is a great choice as it has plenty of nutrients that are beneficial for dogs and it also masks the taste of the supplement, making it easier to get them to take their medication.

Liquid melatonin

Liquid melatonin can be administered directly into your pup's mouth or in their water dish. This is a great option if you have a pup that struggles to take tablets or capsules.

Another benefit is that liquid forms of melatonin can be administered in small doses, which makes it easier to regulate exactly how much your pup is getting. Some pets enjoy this form as it can often come in flavored forms like chicken or beef!

Melatonin supplement treats

For the pickier pups out there, there are tasty supplements and melatonin gummies that are identical to treats. For pet owners, this makes the process incredibly simple as they don't have to worry about fighting with their dogs to take their vitamins.

There are several different options available when it comes to finding melatonin supplements safe for dogs or your pup. You can purchase them online or from pet stores, but you should always make sure that the product is made specifically for dogs and not humans.

Topical cream or gel which is applied directly to their skin

If your dog refuses to take melatonin orally either in capsule or treat form, there are topical and gel options available. To administer your dog's melatonin only topically, simply apply a small amount of the cream or gel to its fur and massage it in until it is completely absorbed.

Remember that the topical form of melatonin tends to be a bit weaker than the oral, so you may need to use a higher dose. However, it's best to talk to your vet before administering any supplements topically, as they can ensure that your pup is getting the correct dosage.

relaxed dog


Can I give my dog human melatonin?

No, you should not give your pup human or melatonin products. Human melatonin supplements are designed for humans and may contain ingredients that could be harmful to your dog, such as xylitol.

Xylitol is a sugar alcohol and can be extremely dangerous for dogs. It causes a rapid release of insulin, leading to severe hypoglycemia and other health complications. In some cases, it can even lead to death.

So again, it's always best to use melatonin supplements specifically designed for dogs when supplementing with this hormone. That way, you're sure that your pup is getting the correct dosage and is not exposed to any potentially harmful ingredients.

When is the best time to give my dog melatonin?

The best time to give your pup melatonin is at night, as this is when their natural production of the hormone peaks. When is this? Generally, this is between 9 pm and 12 am. This way, your pup will get the most benefit out of the supplement as it helps to regulate their sleep cycles.

Additionally, try to use a consistent time every night so that your fur baby will know what to expect and associate it with bedtime.

Can I give my dog melatonin every day?

It depends on the individual needs of your pup and what your vet recommends. In some cases, melatonin can be given daily for a short period to help regulate your dog suffers sleep cycles or even be used to treat their anxiety. However, it's best to speak with your vet first before giving any supplements regularly, as they can assess your pup's situation and determine what would be best for them.

How else can I improve my dog's sleep?

Although melatonin can be a great way to help your pup get the restful sleep they need, there are other ways you can ensure their sleeping habits remain healthy.

First and foremost, establish a bedtime routine for your pup and make sure they stick to it each night. This will help set their internal clock so that they know when it's time for them to wind down and go to sleep. You should also avoid giving them any food or treats 2-3 hours before bed as this could keep them up longer than usual.

Finally, create an environment that is conducive to good sleep hygiene by making sure their bed is in a quiet space with no distractions and invest in blackout curtains if needed!

What other supplements can I use in conjunction with melatonin supplements?

While melatonin is an effective sleep aid for dogs, other supplements may help improve your pup's rest. Valerian root, chamomile, lavender, and magnesium are all great natural supplements to consider. They can be used either separately or in combination with melatonin to help ensure your pup gets the rest they need!

Talk to your vet before giving them any of these supplements as too much can have adverse effects on their health. Additionally, always read the instructions carefully and monitor your dog closely for any changes in behavior or physical symptoms.

What is the difference between melatonin VS Sleep Medications?

Melatonin is typically seen as the safer and more natural option when it comes to helping your pup get restful sleep. Unlike many other sleep medications, melatonin doesn't cause any major side effects such as drowsiness or disorientation. Additionally, it has fewer drug interactions than some pharmaceutical drugs, making it a great choice for those looking for an alternative to traditional sleeping aids.

However, melatonin does not work immediately and can take up to several weeks before you begin seeing results. Also, if your pup is suffering from chronic insomnia or another underlying health issue, then starting melatonin now may not be the best option and they should seek out professional medical help from their vet.

Ultimately, melatonin can be a great supplement to help your pup get the restful sleep they need and if used correctly, can have some amazing benefits for them. However, it's always best to talk to your vet before starting any supplements or medications so that they can make sure your pup is getting the correct dosage and is not suffering from any underlying health issues.

sick pup

If I stop giving my dog melatonin, will they have withdrawals?

No, melatonin is not an addictive substance and should not cause any withdrawal symptoms if you decide to stop giving it to your pup. If your pup has been taking melatonin for a long period, they may experience some adverse reactions when the supplement is removed from their system, such as difficulty sleeping or irritability.

Always taper off any supplements gradually so that your pup's body has time to adjust and adapt.

Melatonin should not be used as a treatment in place of professional medical help. If your pup is suffering from chronic insomnia or another underlying health issue, then it's best to talk to your vet as soon as possible so that they can figure out the best plan of action for helping your pup get the restful sleep they need.

Can dogs be allergic to melatonin?

Yes, some dogs may experience allergic reactions to melatonin, including hives, sneezing, coughing, or difficulty breathing. Always read the ingredients label carefully before giving your dog any supplements to ensure that your pup isn't allergic to any of the ingredients.

If your dog is showing signs of an allergic reaction, get to the bottom of it to confirm if melatonin is the culprit. The best way to determine what your pup is reacting to is by working with your veterinarian and undergoing a series of tests or an elimination diet.

If your dog is suffering from a melatonin allergy, you may be able to find relief in topical medications like medicated shampoos or ointments. Ultimately, finding the cause of the allergy and avoiding that particular allergen should be the goal for long-term management dosage melatonin too.

All in all…

Melatonin can be a great supplement for dogs to help improve their sleep. However, you should always speak with your vet before giving any supplements or medications, as they can assess your pup's individual needs and determine what would be best for them.

Additionally, there are several other natural remedies that you can use in conjunction with melatonin, such as valerian root, chamomile, lavender, and magnesium, that may help improve your pup's rest. While it is generally considered safe enough to give melatonin daily for short periods, it is not meant to be a long-term solution and should not be used instead of professional medical help if needed.

Finally, if you believe your dog may have an allergy to melatonin, find the cause and avoid that allergen for long-term management. By following these tips, you can help ensure that your pup gets the restful sleep they need!